The concept of digital transformation has been around for two decades now but most companies are still struggling to master it. According to Forrester, which kicks off its annual two-day Digital Transformation Forum in Chicago tomorrow, there’s a pretty obvious problem.

“Digital transformation now dominates many C-suite and boardroom agendas. But it remains unclear what ‘digital transformation’ means,” Forrester wrote.

Digital Transformation Dread

Digital transformation is to the C-suite what performance reviews are to most employees: a source of unease and anxiety.

Unlike most company-wide initiatives, digital transformation is an amorphous concept. In addition, it doesn’t have an established track record so the return-on-investment is hard to define.

But perhaps most concerning, it’s likely to trigger systemic disruption across the organization. For the change-averse — or anyone who still believes there’s no sense fixing something that still works (even poorly) — it’s downright intimidating.

Pushing Past Digital Fears

And yet, in this digital age, disruptive technologies are part of the new normal. The best way to future-proof your business is by understanding how these technologies affect your business and strategically implementing the relevant ones.

As Forrester maintains, digital transformation requires broad and systemic enterprise-wide change. More specifically:

“True digital transformation requires a sharp break with past practices, legacy systems, and even long-standing partners.” It is “driven by the aggressive adoption of digital technologies but supported by equally important changes in culture, leadership, skills, and processes.”

In other words, digital transformation involves more than implementing new software applications. It requires businesses to transform how they do things and rethink how their stakeholders interact.

Why? “Because people are the heart of every digital transformation,” said Arke Chief Marketing Technology Officer Chris Spears.

Taming Technology

Spears said companies need to understand how all their technologies fit inside the organization and how it will ultimately change the way people work.

What’s more, companies need to make sure their employees can successfully work with any new technologies by offering demonstrations and training.

“The big question to ask is ‘How can new and existing technology improve the lives of your employees, your customers, your partners, your suppliers, and other stakeholders?” Spears said.

To answer that effectively, start with strategy. A strategic approach enables companies to more effectively leverage their technology investments and create more compelling and frictionless brand experiences.

At Arke, we call this Marketing Technology Alignment or MTA. It’s a framework for measuring experiences, people, process, technology, and data maturity. The goal is to help businesses navigate to better brand experiences.

People, Processes, Technology, Data

By using their understanding of people, processes, technology, and data to win and retain relationships, organizations can help their companies grow. Here’s a suggested four-point plan.

  1. Engage all of your employees, your first customers. Reach across the organization. Bring in Marketing, Sales, Support, IT, and representatives of your other constituencies. Don’t try to transform in a vacuum. Many of your employees are already thinking the way you are.
  2. Leverage a tool like Arke’s Journey Mapping Framework to design at least one persona journey. Think small, and articulate the shortcomings of your journey.
  3. Build a technology map to accurately assess tools you own and how you use them. Look for value in the systems you have already purchased through enhanced integration opportunities.
  4. Make use of minimum viable data such as demographic and location data, the frequency of purchase, and average purchase size. This helps you know your customer.

“You want everyone affected by your digital transformation to feel at ease. That way they can embrace change with excitement and confidence rather than a feeling of concern over what is happening to them,” he continued.

This plan leads to thoughtful technology integrations that produce clear data insights and address customer issues proactively, Spears said.

By knowing the data, initiating process improvement, and integrating systems, companies will create actionable alignment across people, process, technology, and data.

For More Information

Could your company benefit from a strategic digital transformation? Contact Chris Spears for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.